A coach house makes a splendid home office

Coach House: Expand Your Living Space, Right Where You Are

Heading into September we continue to be bowled over by the interest in coach houses and tiny houses. They are so obviously striking a chord with so many of you!

The options for creating income generation, expanding home living space, establishing a studio/home office, or providing an in-law suite right within the grounds of your existing home all appeal.

In-law suite or extended family living

An inlaw suite is a great use for a coach houseCreating an in-law suite for a parent or parents who can enjoy their own space but also be more readily supported is very appealing. The same is true for an adult child or family member who may need the benefit of close proximity to supporting family members.

Everyone gets their own space, but access couldn’t be easier and the cost has a lot to recommend it.

Did you know that some of our coach house models come with an extra bedroom or den? These bonus rooms truly make these coach houses worth considering.

Home office

A coach house makes a splendid home officeTaking advantage of the coach house regulations in Ottawa to build a small, dedicated space for a home office has so much to recommend it.

An art or music studio/recording space are additional related uses. Our two-storey model with a three-car garage would make a fabulous workshop for any auto enthusiast.

With a separate entrance and dedicated space, you’ll increase your ability to concentrate, avoid interruption, and – of course – the professional impression for any visitors.

You’ll also retain the flexibility to use the space in other ways in future.

Airbnb or other income generating unit

AirbnbIf your primary residence isn’t suited to an income generating unit, but your lot meets the City of Ottawa’s coach house requirements, you could consider a low-cost coach house.

A dedicated unit with a completely separate entrance will also allow you to continue to enjoy full privacy within your main residence.

 

Find out more

Eager to learn more? Make sure you check out these essential resources:

And of course, give us a shout, we’d love to help you figure out how a coach house could be the solution you’re seeking!


How to plan your coach house in Ottawa

How to plan your Coach House in Ottawa

Intrigued by the possibility but uncertain about the details?

Interest in building a Coach House continues to come from many Ottawa residents, but along with that interest comes a lot of questions and a little confusion. We invariably have to point folks to the City for specific details pertaining to their property, but there is a lot of good information now available that can help residents to do their own research and feel comfortable in understanding their options in the early phases of planning.

The new Coach House legislation is a great boon for many. The potential in particular for an income-generating property right where you live is really appealing to many and it’s a seriously smart investment. But where to start if you have a property and you need to figure out what you can obtain permission to build?

In the fall of 2017, the City of Ottawa published a 32-page document on How to plan your Coach House in Ottawa, and here we break it down into small, easily understood parts. You may still end up reading that 32-page document, but starting here will give you the key information more quickly. We’re also able to clarify some information that is not currently available in that document.

What is a coach house?

Meant to be a gentle form of intensification, coach house are smaller dwellings – usually up to 40% the size of the principal dwelling – on residential properties with detached, semi-detached, duplex or some rowhouse dwellings (the latter must be on a corner lot or have access to a travelled lane).

In fact, any primary residence under 125 m² can accommodate a 50 m² house. For example a 90 m² house would still be allowed to have the coach house of 50 m² just like the 125 m² home. This is welcome news for homeowners of small, post-war homes in Ottawa.

The initial requirements list below is important – if your property doesn’t meet these basic guidelines, you can’t build.

Coach houses must be:

City of Ottawa coach house zoning example

Zoning / building footprint: click to enlarge

  • secondary to the principal dwelling
  • remain as an accessory use to the main dwelling (and cannot be severed)
  • designed and located to be in harmony with the neighourhood and immediate neighbours
  • serviced by the principal dwelling’s water/sanitation connections, or by a direct connection when the main dwelling is on a private well/septic
  • designed and located to preserve mature trees

Additionally:

  • development is not allowed on the floodplain
  • for urban lots, the coach house must be in the rear yard (in rural lots larger than 0.4 hectares exceptions are permitted)
  • in the urban area, the main dwelling and the coach house must share the same parking area and yards
  • the coach house must not exceed lot coverage of 40% of the yard
  • max. height not to exceed the height of the primary dwelling (up to 3.6m, or a flat roof of 3.2m in urban areas; 4.5m or up to 6.1m when a garage is included in village/rural areas)
  • it’s not possible to have a secondary dwelling unit inside the principal dwelling and a coach house; you may only have one of these
  • existing accessory structures may be permitted to convert in part or whole (e.g. garages, sheds or stables) up to a max. footprint of 80m2 (urban area) or 95m2 (rural area)

Capital Coach house plan

EkoBuilt’s Capital Coach House with garage (988 sq.ft. ) 1 of 8 designs

2 Storey Coach Houses

“An application to allow the height of up to a two storey coach house in the urban area through a minor variance may be considered where the conditions for minor variances have been considered and the coach house is proposed to contain a garage on the main level.”

From How to Plan Your Coach House in Ottawa, City of Ottawa

Pre-planning considerations

All coach houses require a Building Permit, and any to be sited with private septic/well will also require a Site Plan Control Approval application.

Make sure your planned investment will be viable first by understanding these key factors:

Servicing feasibility: water/sanitation

Your coach house will need full water/sanitation service, just like the primary dwelling. For urban lots with municipal service, you will need to extend that service to the coach house, and this “may mean modifying or replacing the service at the point where it connects with the City’s water and sewermain”. For lots with private well/septic, the coach house will need to connect to these.

In either case, you will want to consult the appropriate professionals to help ensure that you have the best plan and infrastructure in place so that approval is given.

The City of Ottawa does also recommend that any new coach house also have an independent water heater; Ontario building code does not require this, but it’s strongly recommended.

Servicing feasibility: electrical

Naturally you will need to investigate the electrical service for your primary dwelling to see how it may be extended to your planned coach house. Additional capacity will almost always be needed, and you need to develop an electrical plan that will be approved.

Servicing feasibility: grading/drainage

EkoBuilt's Pinewood Paradise coach house designs

EkoBuilt’s Pinewood Paradise (659 sq.ft.), 1 of 8 coach house designs

A formal grading and drainage plan will be required by the City of Ottawa as part of your application for a Building Permit for any coach house “55 m2 or larger in size and/or for coach houses which are within 1.2 metres from a property line”. It makes good sense to consider grading and drainage as part of any coach house project.

All of these steps are a fundamental part of the planning process, and EkoBuilt can help ensure that you go about this properly. Our team of professionals can make this part of the process much easier, navigating key steps along the way.

Design and placement

Some commonsense factors come into play with the placement and design for your coach house:

  • setbacks from property lines will apply and must be adhered to
  • height permission will depend on location and lot size (see above)
  • privacy for neighbours will be important; entrances and windows will generally face towards the principal dwelling and not outwards toward neighbours
  • the Zoning By-law requires a walkway from the coach house to the street of 1.2m in width (for pedestrian access and emergency services), however the walkway may not be used to expand parking on the lot
  • the City’s 32-page guide provides excellent visual examples of different urban and rural coach house configurations

Additional costs

Tiny Canuck coach house plan

EkoBuilt’s Tiny Canuck (499 sq.ft.), 1 of 8 coach house designs

Finally, remember that your new coach house will require insurance coverage and it will also increase the property taxes that you pay.

For a coach house that will be used as an Airbnb rental or another form of income generation, the total cost of a coach house may be well worth it.

Looking for a great solution? The EkoBuilt team is ready to help make your coach house dream a reality, with our expertise, experience and 8 Coach House designs. We can also create a custom design just for you.

Give us a shout today: paul@ekobuilt.com or 613-227-4663.

Download the City of Ottawa’s 32-page document on How to plan your Coach House in Ottawa


Tiny Tulip coach house plan

Coach Homes of Ottawa: Your Questions Answered

After a month of intense activity at some great shows where we met a lot of great folks, it’s time to get back to the topics that you’ve asked to hear more about. Chief among those is coach homes and tiny homes, and there is definitely an intersection between our energy efficient coach house plans and anyone interested in living small.

Many of you have already familiarized yourselves with the essentials of our coach house offering, so in this post we’re enhancing that information for those of you who are clearly entertaining the notion of building to this scale. Here are the questions we get most frequently:

Are the plans customizable?

Ottawa coach house plans by EkoBuilt

EkoBuilt’s Mooneys Pad tiny house plan

Indeed they are! While we currently offer 8 coach house plans, we can modify any of them or create new plans from scratch.

We are a complete design/build firm and love the challenge of finding the best design for each client’s particular needs and preferences.

What can I build on my property?

This is definitely a question for a City of Ottawa development officer, reachable at 613-580-2424. A call to the City will help to clarify any specific limitations or considerations for your property. We can also help with interpreting the information you receive from the City, as we deal with this regularly.

How do your costs compare?

EkoBuilt’s costs appear to be approximately 10 – 12% higher than some of our competition, which results in an additional $20,000 on average by project. But consider this:

Building codes are becoming stricter every year and adopting the most energy efficient build that you can afford now is well worth it. It’s wise to protect your coach house investment by building to the passive house standard in order to keep pace with changing codes (in fact, you’ll stay ahead of codes and recoup your costs and more over time).

EkoBuilt is quite unique in its approach and can work with you to build to the standard that best fits your current budget while protecting your investment for the long run.

Definitely read our post What it costs to build a coach house.

Do we need solar panels?

Solar panels can be used for additional economic benefit, offsetting Hydro bills, but they are not required. In our design and construction we are mainly focused on saving money through a focus on super energy efficiency.

For those interested in solar panels, one of the greatest benefits of our coach homes is they are easily net zero (able to produce as much energy as they use) which results in a complete offset of your utility bills. An approximate $10,000 investment in solar panels is a good baseline.

Ottawa Coach House Essentials

Make sure you review everything in our Coach House section, and please reach out to us if you’re thinking about:

  • simply living small
  • a home office or home studio
  • a secondary dwelling
  • an in-law suite
  • a rental unit / Air B&B

We can help you to consider all of the angles and to come up with the smartest plan for you.